Twenty four newly recruited directors at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) have been placed on a 90-day probation pending screening of their academic and criminal records, amongst others. The directors are all employees of the former Ministry of Finance and were recruited through a competitive vetting process recently to beef up the newly established MFDP.
Affected are the directors of Non-Tax Revenue, Indirect Taxation, Modeling &Forecast, Direct Taxes, Fiscal Decentralization, Financial Approval, Treasury Services, Financial Regulations and Accounting Services all under the department of fiscal affairs at the MFDP.
Others include the directors of Budget Policy &Coordination, Social and Community Services, Economic Services, Public Administration Services, Regional &Sectoral Services, Public Investment, Monitoring &Evaluation and Plan Development &Coordination, from the Department of Budget &Development Planning.
Four of the newly recruited directors are from the Department of Administration, while three are from the Department of Economic Management.
Speaking at the orientation program for the newly recruited directors in Monrovia on October 29, Finance Minister Amara M. Konneh said he expects nothing, but the best from the newly recruits. “I expect you to perform to the highest level because the running of the economy depends on how best you perform. If you delay your work just remember that you will be strangulating the entire economy,” he said.
“They [directors] have been placed on 90-day probation until we can verify their degrees and do criminal background checks on them. We are also making sure that they declare their assets, copies of which will be given to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), the MFDP’s Integrity office and the office of the Minister,” Konneh added.
The Liberian Finance Minister displayed a copy of the MFDP employee handbook to the directors and challenged them that they must read it.
“The MFDP employee handbook, which came out of the reform is a required read for all directors because the handbook stresses the purpose of the MFDP in addition to the law that created the Ministry and that it transcends all individual purposes,” he stated.
He also challenged the directors to know the Public Financial Management (PFM) law and the Public Procurement Concession Commission Act to their fingertips.
“You must know these laws to your utmost best because they are your daily guide.” He also reminded the recruits that the Liberian people depend on them to do the right job at the right time in their respective offices.
The recruitment of the 24 directors came out of the reform process that led to the creation of the MFDP, but Minister Konneh is aware of the challenges ahead in putting all of the pieces together for the smooth running of the new ministry.
“We are not finished with this reform exercise yet, but we have made some progress. As we all know reforms are difficult, painful and the majority of them fail. But this is not the case with us and we have succeeded because of the political [will] and the cooperation,” he said.
“The more difficult part now is implementation especially consistent with the law that created the MFDP—making sure that we sequence the transition process in such a way that we don’t overheat the process to create stalemate.”
Civil Service Agency Director-General George Werner noted the government is making progress with the completion of the recruitment of the directors. “It is not easy to reform, but we are gradually getting there by the fact that the Ministry of Finance has succeeded with this very crucial exercise,” said Director Werner.
According to the CSA Director-General, it is necessary to conduct a reform of the government in order to remove the discretionary powers given to an individual on deciding who to or not to benefit from allowances. “This is not fair and civil servants are not happy with it,” he added.
Director Werner challenged the directors to serve as an example in their respective offices as he reminded them that their positions are currently the highest ranking so far in the civil service.
Also speaking, Mr. Yarsuo Weh-Dorliae, Commissioner of the Governance Commission (GC), stressed the need for reform of all public institutions.
“Our institutions have to reform — some of their functions must be merged or transferred to other institutions,” he said; adding, “We are here to advance the governance agenda.” Commissioner Dorliae who spoke on behalf of GC Chairman, Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer further admonished the directors to pay keen attention to new details on their job and don’t take anything for granted.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives’ Planning Committee, Rep. Larry Yanquoi, lauded the collaboration between the MFDP, CSA, GC and the legislature on the new reform. According to Rep. Yanquoi, such collaboration is a needed tool to improving and reforming the governance system in the country.